Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sausage & Spinach Lasagna

Matt decided to make up his own recipe for lasagna this week using Italian sausage instead of ground beef. He also decided to use a store bought sauce instead of making one. He wanted to get something similar to mixing tomato & bechamel sauce so he went with a vodka cream sauce. It turned out superb! We made this recipe in two pans, and 8x8 and a loaf pan, freezing one to eat later but it would also work in a 9x13.
Matt's Sausage & Spinach Lasanga

12 lasagna noodles
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
26 oz vodka sauce
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed with liquid squeezed out
2 eggs
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/4 t nutmeg
2 c grated Italian cheese (we used a blend of parmesan & mozzarella)


Cook noodles according to directions on the package & set aside.
Heat large saucepan over med-high heat. Add sausage & cook though. Mix all but 1 cup of the vodka sauce.
Mix spinach, eggs, ricotta & nutmeg together.
Coat bottom on the baking dish with a little sauce, just enough to coat. Place four noodles over sauce.
lasagna 1
Layer 1/2 of the spinach mixture on top of noddles. Then layer 1/2 of sausage mixture. Add another of layer of 4 noodles & then layer with the remaining spinach & then sausage. Top with the last four noodles.
lasagna 3
Top with remaining sauce.
lasagna 4
Sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Winter's Bounty

winter's bounty
Butternut Squash, parsnips, brussel sprouts & onion. This was the mixture for last night roasted vegetables, a staple at Chez Good Appetite with the vegetable mixture changing seasonally. I coated these in olive oil, balsamic vinegar & kosher salt & let them roast until soft & brown. During the last 10 minutes I threw in some cherry tomatoes to create a little sauce. Over couscous a very lovely meal. You can see my more exact recipe here.

Bread

Yesterday I baked the first loaf from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I did the Crusty Sandwich Bread because Matt wanted something he could use for lunches.
crusty sandwich loaf
I rose a little oddly on top, I think because I had a slight seam off to one side, need to be more careful about that. I also think my dough was a little drier than the recipe wanted. The bread is good though with a very crusty crust & small bubbles inside, which seems perfect for sandwiches to me. I've mixed up a new batch which did come out wetter so it'll be interesting to see if the bread is different, I'm betting it'll have much bigger bubbles inside.
We used a little as soon as it cooled for an afternoon snack.
#28 - Afternoon snack
Fresh bread, brie & fig jam...seriously could anything taste better?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chicken Mole with Chipotles

I've made mole once before for an aphrodisiac themed dinner my supper club in San Francisco had. Chocolate & a little spice, seemed to fit the bill. Bon Appétit calls this a streamlined version of mole.
Chicken Mole with Chipoltes

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 3 pieces
2 T ground cumin
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 14 1/4 oz cans chili-style chunky tomatoes in juice
1 c canned chicken broth
2 T minced canned chipolte chiles plus 1 T adobo sauce
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Coat chicken on all sides with cumin, Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Heat oil in large heavy pot over med-high heat. Add chicken; sauté until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add onion & sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, chipolte chilies, adobo sauce & chocolate & bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to med-low & simmer until chicken is cooked through & sauce slightly thickens, about 20 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Serve over rice.

Makes 4 servings.

As I've mentioned before I am a wimp about hot foods so I used closer to 1 T of the minced chipolte. There was just a whisper of heat. Also I couldn't find chili-style tomatoes so I used fire-roasted which may have also lessened the heat though I'm afraid maybe took some flavor out, perhaps if I have this problem next time I'll add a little chili pepper. The chocolate seems to come through as more of an aroma than a taste. This was a nice hearty meal but not really a wow. Matt wants to use the leftovers as enchilada filling which i think could be quite good.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chicken & Brussel Sprout Tacos

This was supposed to be Swiss Chard Tacos with Caramelized Onions, Fresh Cheese & Red Chile from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday but the chard had mold on it so Matt decided to improvise with what was in the fridge.
chicken & brussel sprout tacos

1 large chicken breast, cut into strips
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
1 large red onion, slice 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t red pepper flakes (less or more depending on how hot you like things)
1/4 c chicken broth (we used 1/2 cup & it was way too soupy)
8 brussel sprouts, cleaned & sliced
salt
warm tortillas
1 c crumbled queso fresco or goat cheese
salsa
sour cream or yogurt

In a large skillet heat the oil over med-high heat. Add the onion & cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown but still crunchy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chicken, garlic & red pepper flakes & cook until the chicken is done. Add broth, 1/2 t salt and the brussel sprouts. Reduce the heat to med-low, cover the pan & cook until the sprouts are almost tender. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to med-high & cook, stirring continually, until the mixture is nearly dry. Taste & season with more salt is needed. Serve with warm tortillas, cheese, salsa & sour cream.

I was a little dubious about brussel sprouts in tacos but this was so good! Want to get your kids to eat some leafy greens? If they like tacos try this recipe.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekly Menu 1/27-2/2

This week because of a busy schedule that won't allow me a lot of time to cook we are planning on eating a few meals from what we've stashed in the freezer over the past weeks.

Chicken Mole with Chipolte
- from Bon Appétit Dec '01- I wanted to use the chipoltes left over from the black bean soup - RESULT: A nice hearty dish but not really a wow in flavor.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup
- from the freezer

Beef Stew with Root Vegetables
- From the freezer - RESULT: I think I preferred this one frozen & reheated.

Spinach & Sausage Lasagna
- Matt is making this one up - RESULT: Yummy, glad we made one for the freezer!

Roasted Vegetables on Couscous
- One of my favorite, grab whatever vegetables grab you at the market, meals. - RESULT: The mixture of winter vegetables was just great!

Black Bean Chipolte Soup - from the freezer
New Bread Book
I got a new bread cookbook this week that allows you to mix up the dough for a four of loaves at one time. You then keep it in the fridge & cut off what you need on baking day leaving the rest for another day. I've got the first batch rising so we'll get fresh bread with the leftovers this week.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pasta with Butternut Squash & Soybeans

Epicurious is a great resource for recipes. I knew I wanted to make a pasta with butternut squash this week so I just put in those ingredients & picked the one that sounded best. This recipe originally called for Lima Beans but I read some of the comments & soybeans were suggested as a good alternative. Since I had soybeans in the freezer I decided to go that way. I find the comments on the recipes in Epicurious are also a great resource on how to tweek a recipe.
Pasta with Butternut Squash and Soybeans

2 T olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T chopped fresh thyme or 1 t dried
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper
3 1/2 c butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. (about a 2 lb squash)
1 10-oz package frozen soybeans (shelled), thawed. (or use baby lima beans)
2 c vegetable broth

10 oz penne pasta (3 c)
1/4 c grated parmesan

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add onion & sauté under tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper & stir 1 minute. Add squash & beans & sauté 3 minutes. Add broth & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover & simmer until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes (I simmered for 15 & actually think they could have used about 5 minutes more to get the squash a little softer). Season to taste with slat & pepper.
Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain & return to pot. Add squash mixture to pasta. Toss to blend, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if necessary (ours was actually almost soupy so no extra broth was needed). Season with salt & pepper. Transfer to bowl & sprinkle with cheese.

This tasted wonderful & I will make it again though with the longer cooking time for the vegetables. Some people suggested roasting the squash first but that added a lot more preperation time to what is a quick recipe.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Black Bean Chipolte Soup

I belong to a great group on Flickr called 365 Moments. One of the other members is a chef & this week I decided to try the this soup from her website iSimmer
Black Bean Chipolte Soup

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/4 cups diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups salted chicken broth (fresh or canned)
1 (14 ½ oz.) can of kidney beans, drained
2 (15-oz.) cans unseasoned black beans, drained
2 individual chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (We had to go to a special Mexican market to find these)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Garnish:
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
Whole cilantro leaves
1 lime cut into wedges

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-heat. Add diced onion and garlic and sauté until transparent. Add spices and continue cooking for 1 minutes. Add chicken broth, kidney beans, black beans, chipotle peppers with sauce, and tomato paste. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for 45 minutes. Add baking soda. Some foaming will occur as the acid in the tomato paste is neutralized.

Add ½ cup sour cream/yogurt to the hot soup mixture. Carefully puree the hot soup with a hand immersion blender. The soup will be flecked with bean skin when it is pureed. Hold over low heat until served. Fold in the Chopped cilantro just before ladling soup into bowls. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of the remaining sour cream or yogurt, cilantro sprig, and a lime wedge.

Serves 6

This was such a wonderful black bean soup. The flavors were just so spot on. I found it a wee bit spicy but the addition of the yogurt helped a lot. Matt on the other hand said it wasn't spicy at all. Just perfect for these cold winter nights. This one could easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Smashed Roasted Parsnips & Garlic

Last night I used the leftover breading from the Faux Fried Chicken on a couple of chicken breasts (man, this is some good breading). I decided to use the parsnips I had leftover from the Beef Stew as a side & came up with this recipe.
Mashed Roasted Garlic Parsnips

3 parsnips, peeled & cut into about 1/2-inch pieces
1 or 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 T olive oil
salt & pepper
1 T milk
1 T butter

Preheat oven to 400. Put the parsnips & garlic cloves into a small roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil & stir to coat everything. Add salt & pepper. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the parsnips are tender & browning about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, add milk & butter & smash with a folk or potato masher. Add more salt & pepper to taste.

Matt was really not sure about this one but it was so good, sweet but not too sweet. He thought it tasted like coconut sticky rice which I think is an interesting comparison. We only used one clove of garlic but I felt it would do nicely with the addition of a second (Matt disagrees saying it doesn't need the garlic flavor. )

Makes 2 big servings

Beef Stew with Root Vegetables

I love a good beef stew on a cold day & there about a million recipes out there for it. I had some parsnips in the fridge so went on a search for a stew recipe that used root vegetables other than just carrots & potatoes. I probably could have come up with this myself but its always fun to search the web for things to try. I ended up using this recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini.
Mijoté de Boeuf aux Légumes Racine
Since she is in Europe her quantities were in grams so they come out a little odd in pounds.

1 T olive oil
2 onions, peeled & sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1.8 lbs boneless beef chuck cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1.3 lbs carrots, peeled & sliced
1.3 lbs parsnip, peeled & sliced
10 oz fingerling or new potatoes, scrubbed & sliced
salt & pepper
1 t cumin seeds
1 c red wine

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. Add the onions, garlic & 1 T water and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add in the meat and cook for a few more minutes, browning the pieces on all sides. Remove the meat & set aside on a plate. Add in the carrots, parsnips & potatoes, season with salt, pepper & cumin, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Return the meat to the pot, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then pour in the red wine & 2 cups hot water. Bring to a light boil, cover & turn the heat to low. Simmer for 3 hours, stirring from time to time, & adding in more water if the juices evaporate too much. Serve immediately, or let cool, refrigerate and reheat the next day.

Serves 4.

I ended up buying a little over 2 pounds of meat so I upped the quantity on the vegetables to 1.5 lbs each. Then I added an extra cup of wine. We didn't have cumin seeds so I substituted 1/2 t of caraway seeds which had a lovely flavor. The three hours of cooking made the beef so tender. This sauce to this stew was a little soupier than I like which make be my fault for adding the extra wine. Matt liked the consistency of it & it was great soaked up with homemade Irish Potato Bread. With our extra quantities of ingredients we had a lot more than 4 servings. We ate a serving each for dinner, have had small lunch servings the last two days & have 4 more servings in the freezer so this one goes a long way.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Weekly Menu 1/20/08-1/25/08

Its cold here, really cold, dangerous windchill cold so we're planning lots of warm winter meals & also a few things we can double & freeze for later.

Beef Stew with Root Vegetables - recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini - RESULT: A nice hearty beef stew with a more soup-like broth. The long cooking makes for really tender beef.

Bread Chicken Breasts with Smashed Roasted Parsnips & Garlic - Using the leftover breading from the Faux Fried Chicken. - RESULT: The chicken was good but the star of this meal to me was the parsnips. A good alternative to potatoes.

Pasta with Butternut Squash & Lima Beans - from Bon Appétit Oct. '99 - RESULT: We used soybeans instead of lima beans. This was very good but cook longer next time.

Black Bean Chipotle Soup - From iSimmer - RESULT: Yummy! just a little bit spicy.

Chicken & Brussel Sprout Tacos - This started out being a different recipe but due to some moldy greens Matt had to improvise. - RESULT: This could have gone either way but it was super good!

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup - My own recipe & back again this week on Matt's request.

Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken & Melted Cheese

We don't make Mexican food all that often though every time we do its so good I think we should do it more. We received Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday for Christmas so maybe that will inspire us. It did inspire Matt to make these enchiladas Saturday night.
Red Chili Enchiladas with Chicken & Melted Cheese

4 med dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded & torn into flat pieces (we replaced most of the guajillos with anchos because I am a wimp about heat)
2 garlic cloves, peeled & quartered
1 28-oz can fired roasted diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 t cumin
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 T vegetable or olive oil, plus a little extra for the tortillas
2 c chicken broth, plus a little extra if necessary
12 corn tortillas (we could not find anything but tiny corn tortillas so we used flour)
salt 1/2 t sugar
2 c coarsely shredded cooked chicken
1 c shredded Mexican melting cheese
1 small white onion cut into rings
cilantro for garnish (yeah we skipped this)

Turn on oven to 350. Set a medium skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, toast the chile pieces a few at a time, pressing them against the hot surface with a spatula until aromatic & lightened in color underneath, about 10 seconds per side. Transfer the roasted to a blender jar. Add the garlic, tomatoes with their juice, cumin & black pepper. blend until as smooth a consistency as possible.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Set a medium-mesh strainer over the pan & pour in the sauce. Press through the strainer to remove bits of chile skin. Then cook, stirring until the sauce is reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in the broth, reduce the heat to med-low and let simmer 10 minutes while you prepare the tortilla, filling & toppings.
Lay out the tortillas on a baking sheet & spray or brush lightly on both sides with oil, then stack them in twos. Slide the tortillas into the oven & bake just long enough to make them soft & pliable, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven & stack them in a single pile; cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.
Taste the sauce & season with salt, usually about 1 1/2 t, and the sugar. Stir in additional broth is the sauce has thickened beyond the consistency of light cream soup.
Spread about 1/2 c sauce over the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish. Stir another 1/2 cup sauce into the chicken. Lay out a warm tortilla, top with a portion of chicken & roll up. Lay seam side down in the baking dish. Continue filling & rolling the rest of the tortillas, then ladle the remaining sauce over the enchiladas & sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is starting to brown. Sprinkle with the onion rings & cilantro.

Matt said this went together very easily since the sauce is the thing that really takes the most work. This was really good & I liked the sauce a lot. I think if we had used all guajillos though I wouldn't have enjoyed it because of the heat. This mix of chiles gave just a hint of heat without burning. Also I liked the taste of the raw onion with the dish but would dice it to sprinkle on top next time rather than have to cut it as I ate.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Indian BBQ Burgers

I twisted my ankle pretty badly this Friday which has left Matt on kitchen duty the last couple of days. Friday night he whipped up some these burgers using the Indian BBQ sauce that we used on pizza on New Year's Eve. We ground 4 chicken thighs with our Kitchen Aid which made a really juicy tasty burger but you could also just buy ground chicken or turkey at the store.
The Daily Grind

Indian BBQ Burgers

1 lb ground chicken
1.5 T Indian BBQ sauce (plus extra for on the burger)
4 Crusty rolls (We used homemade Ciabatta rolls)
Onion

Mix the BBQ sauce with the ground chicken. Form into 4 patties. Cook on griddle until cooked through. Serve on a crusty roll with extra BBQ sauce, onions & we like mayo too.
Indian BBQ Burger

Super easy dinner & a great use of the BBQ sauce. It was also the first time we've used the grinder attachment on the Kitchen Aid & now I'm dying to try homemade Italian sausage.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Faux Fried Chicken

I found this recipe on a blog called Housewifery, which seems to have lots of good sounding recipes. I hadn't been very successful in coming up with a crispy baked chicken that would take the place of fried chicken until we tried this.
Faux Fried Chicken

Faux Fried Chicken
makes 10 smallish pieces

1 3 1/2 - 4 lb chicken, cut into small pieces & skin removed
1 1/2 c buttermilk
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 c very fine bread crumbs
1/4 c grated parmesan
2 t salt
1 t grated lemon zest
1/2 t dried thyme

Put chicken pieces in a glass bowl. Cover with buttermilk & garlic. Turn to coat well. Refrigerate all day or overnight.

Heat oven to 400. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a shallow bowl combine bread crumbs, parmesan, salt, lemon zest & thyme. Roll pieces of chicken in the coating & place on baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes or until done, turning the chicken halfway through.

For the two of us I just did 4 thighs & only used half the breading the recipe called for. The flavor was fantastic. You could really taste the garlic in the chicken meat but it wasn't too strong. The lemon zest really brightened the breading so resist the urge to leave it out, its flavor adds a lot. So good I want it again tonight!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sage & Balsamic Pork Chops with Creamy Pumpkin Polenta

This recipe came from Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats. I've found quite a few things we like out of this book but I've also learned a lot about cooking from it. Very rarely can I get these recipes done in 30-minutes. The prep time really adds to it. Also Rachel's idea of a serving is huge! Even when I do half a 4 serving recipe it is too much for us. It almost always takes things a lot longer to reduce than she says, unless she is serving really runny sauces. Since I have sage leftover from the saltimbocca this sounded like a great recipe to try. Pork chops have always been a hard thing for us as they usually end up dry so I was hoping this method of cooking would produce a juicier chop.
Sage & Balsamic Pork Chop

3 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/4 c fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
salt & pepper
4 1 1/2 inch thick boneless center-cut pork chops
2 1/2 c chicken stock or broth
1 c milk
1 c canned pumpkin puree
1/8 t ground nutmeg
3/4 c quick-cooking polenta
1/2 c grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 T unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375.

Preheat a large, oven-proof skillet over med-high heat with 2 T of the olive oil. In a shallow dish combine the balsamic vinegar, sage, parsley, garlic & remaining 1 T olive oil, salt & pepper. Coat the pork chops & then place them in the skillet & sear the meat on both sides to carmelize, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish off, about 8 minutes, or until the meat is firm to touch but not tough.

While the chops are cooking, in a sauce pot combine chicken stock, milk & pumpkin & season with nutmeg, salt & pepper. Place over high heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the polenta and stir until it begins to mass together. Add the grated cheese and butter, stirring to combine. Keep in mind that polenta is very forgiving. If it becomes too think, not smooth & creamy, you can always add more warm chicken stock or milk.

Garnish the polenta with extra cheese if you wish.
Serves 4.

Our chops were no where near done in this amount of cooking time. The side that was down in the skillet was but the side facing up was not, perhaps turning them once in the 8 minutes would have helped or perhaps a thinner chop.. Since we had everything else ready to go we microwaved them briefly & of course got dry pork chops. I also felt that you couldn't taste the seasoning on the chops at all. I think marinating them for a bit instead of just coating them would have made a big difference. These are seasonings with a lot of flavor but they didn't show up at all.

I really liked the polenta. At first taste I wasn't sure but ti really grew on me. The pumpkin flavor was really quite subtle but I felt added a lot to something that can be a little tasteless. Matt wasn't as sold as I was but he prefers his polenta in a more solid form & fried. The amount of polenta this recipe made was way too much. I made half the recipe for the two of us & there was probably a third serving leftover. As I mentioned Rachel's servings are huge.

I think I would make the idea of this recipe again but with the changes mentioned above. This recipe did come together within 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bread Making

Maybe its winter making me crave carbs but I am all about bread making these days. There is nothing like the smell & taste of fresh baked bread. The bread that got me started was the No Knead Bread originally published in the New York Time that I read about on Not Martha. This bread is so simple, you mix the dough before you go to bed at night, let it rise all night, we let ours rise 18 hours. The next day you let it rest 15 minutes & then a final rise of 2 hours. It bakes for 45 minutes in a dutch oven, we use a large ceramic one as we worry about the handle on our Le Creuset melting at 450.
No Knead Bread
You get a wonderful crusty bread that is perfect with soups & stews. We found lots of hints on Not Martha including the idea of using beer for a portion of the liquid which we think really adds to the flavor.
No Knead Bread

Next I made the Petit Pans au Lait from The Easy Way to Artisan Bread & Pastries. These were lovely soft rolls that would make perfect homemade hot dog buns if I made them a bit smaller.
#3 - If only you could smell this picture
They were a nice texture for sandwiches but I wanted something a little crustier for paninis.

Next I moved on to Ciabatta rolls also from the same book. I got a little worried about the book at this point as it called for a cup of yeast in this recipe! I did a little research online at other similar recipes & changed it to 1 tablespoon, this worked. This recipe started with a biga which is much easier than a sourdough starter.
ciabatta baking
I cooked them in batches on my pizza stone & they turned out lovely. I meant to par bake half of them to freeze & use later but forgot. According to the recipe these rolls handle that well.
Just like the picture
These made a lovely panini the next day, the crust was beautiful.

Matt then suggested I try the Milk Bread from Joy of Cooking as he had made it before & thought it was great. I made it into large sandwich size rolls. Coated in egg wash with a little sea salt on top they were fabulous warm right out of the oven.
Milk Bread Rolls
I thought they were a little heavy to have with a soup or stew but were the best bread yet for sandwiches. I like to rewarm them at 400 for 4 minutes before making the sandwich which crisps up the crust a bit. These would also make great hamburger rolls.

Later I'll tell you of my sourdough woes...right now I have Bavarian Pretzels rising as a midday treat for Matt.

Shepherd's Pie

This is not the traditional Shepherd's Pie made with ground lamb & such. This was Matt's idea for the leftover bolognese sauce. We didn't like this sauce over pasta really but it made a great shepherd's pie.
Shepherd's pie
I drained a little of the liquid (& grease) from the sauce & added about a cup of frozen peas. On top I put some yukon gold potatoes that had been mashed with a butter, pepper & milk. I baked th whole thing at 400 for about 30 minutes & it was great. I even had leftovers of it for lunch today.
Shepherd's pie
I won't make bolognese again just for this but it did remind my how good shepherd's pie is.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

This is another classic Minnesota dish. For awhile I've been searching for the perfect recipe for it. I've made it from cookbooks & from the recipes that come with the rice but none ever had the flavor I was looking for. I've been working on my own version & I think I've finally created the soup I wanted.

Its important when making this soup to use real wild rice. Don't use those wild rice mixes or such as the rice won't have as good a flavor or texture.
Creamy chicken wild rice soup

1/2 c wild rice
2 T butter
3/4 c onion, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 med. carrot, minced
3 T flour
pepper
3 c chicken broth
1 c cream or milk
1 1/2 - 2 c cooked chicken, chopped
1 T fresh thyme

In a med saucepan bring 2 c of water to a boil. Add wild rice. Reduce heat to simmer & cover. Let rice simmer for 40-50 minutes until tender. Drain remaining water. Set aside.
Melt the butter over med high heat in a soup pot. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Let cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent about 5 minutes. Add the flour & a few grinds of fresh pepper, stir for 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth & cream. Cook while stirring until bubbly, then stir for another minute. Add in chicken, thyme & wild rice. Serve with a good crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings
Creamy chicken wild rice soup
I had hoped to serve this with homemade sourdough bread but my starter failed...a post on bread making tomorrow.

Weekly Menu - 1/13/08-1/19/08

This week its a little bit of a trip around the world...

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup - My own recipe - RESULT: Its taken awhile for me to perfect the recipe I wanted for this soup but I think I've finally done it.

Shepard's Pie
- Making this one up using the leftover bolognese - RESULT: We liked the shepherd's pie better than the original bolognese. Time to find some good shepherd's pie recipes.

Faux Fried Chicken - A recipe I found on Housewifery - RESULT: So good, make this again & again. Just remember you need about 8 hours to soak the chicken before making.

Sage & Balsamic Pork Chops with Creamy Pumpkin Polenta
- from Rachel Ray 365 - RESULTS: I liked the idea of this recipe but it needs so changes to make a more flavorful chop that is cooked all the way through. The polenta is good but the serving size is way too big.

Indian Chicken Burgers
- Matt is going to grind chicken into burgers & use the Indian bbq sauce as seasoning. - RESULT: A great juicy burger.

Red Chili Enchiladas with Chicken & Melted Cheese - Mexican Everyday: Rick Bayless - RESULT: A really tasty dinner where the sauce is most of the work. We replaced the hotter chiles with something milder since I can't handle much heat.

Chicken Saltimbocca with Lemon Sauce

We've tried a couple different version of Saltimbocca & this on is really a favorite. For something that looks so fancy it comes together very easily & cooks quickly. The lemon sauce is the perfect compliment with the flavors of the sage & crispy prosciutto.
CIMG8376.JPG

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
8 large fresh sage leaves
8 thin prosciutto slices (about 3 oz)
1/2 c plus 2 t all purpose flour

1 T butter
1 1/2 T olive oil

2 T dry white wine
1/2 c chicken broth
2 T lemon juice

Place the chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap on work surface. Using mallet, pound the chicken to 1/3 inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt & pepper. Place 2 sage leaves atop each chicken breast half. Top each chicken breast with 2 prosciutto slices, pressing to adhere. Spread 1/2 cup flour on plate. Turn chicken in flour to lightly coat both sides.
Melt butter with oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add chicken, prosciutto side down; cook 4 minutes. Turn chicken over & cook just until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to platter & cover to keep warm; reserve skillet.
Whisk wine with remaining 2 t flour in small bowl. Add broth & lemon juice to same skillet; bring to boil. Add wine mixture; whisk until sauce thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken.
Chicken Saltimbocca with Lemon Sauce
Serves 4

Recipe from Bon Appétit March 2007

Matt says this is one of our 5-star recipes!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lentil Chili with Cumin & Green Onions

As soon as we get the new Bon Appétit each month I go through it looking for recipes that sound like something good to try. In the February '08 issue this was the first one that caught my attention. It is in their restaurant recipes section & is from the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas.
Lentil chili with cumin & green onions

2 t olive oil
1/2 c chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 t dried oregano leaves
1/8 t cayenne pepper
4 c (or more) water
1 c dried brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 c tomato puree
1/3 c plus 2 T chopped green onions

Heat oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion & sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic & sauté 30 seconds. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano & cayenne pepper; stir 30 seconds. Add 4 cups of water, lentils & tomato puree. Increase heat & bring to a boil, skimming off any foam from surface. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes, adding more water by 1/4 cupfuls as needed if dry (we added another 1/2 cup). Stir in 1/3 cup green onion. Season with salt & pepper. This can be made 2 days ahead. Cover & chill. Rewarm over medium heat stirring occasionally.
Garnish bowls with remaining green onions.
Makes 4 servings.

We also garnished with cheddar cheese & sour cream. Since this was a spa recipe those were probably no-nos. I thought the sour cream added a really good flavor to it. This was a good vegetarian chili & it went together really quickly. The seasoning is good (it smelled terrific) & not too spicy which is good for a wimp like me. They do say to add more cayenne if you like things hotter. I think I still prefer Matt's Smoky Chili or his Chicken Chili (which we haven't written about yet) but I think we will make this again.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bolognese

This was a meal that took some planning since you are supposed to let it sit overnight. I used the bolognese recipe from Joy of Cooking.
First day you make the sauce.
Bolognese Sauce
Which is really just carrots, celery, onions, ground meat, white wine & a little tomato paste. Then you let that cook for 2 hours adding 1 1/2 cups milk 2 tablespoons at a time throughout the cooking process while also skimming off fat. So really you can't just walk away & let it cook for the two hours you have to attend it.
The second day you just skim off any fat & reheat it & serve over pasta.
Bolognese & Garlic Bread
It was supposed to be over tagliatta but since we have a hard time finding any specialty pastas at the stores here we went with fettucine.
This was ok, really not great. It was kind of like a not very tomatoey sloppy joe sauce over pasta. I thought it would be richer, perhaps the fact I used skim milk instead of whole milk made a difference. I'm not sure what I expected as I've never had it as far as I can remember. I think because I've been reading Heat which is so full of Italian cooking I wanted to try something new.

So, since I don't think this recipe is worth making again I won't post the recipe. We have half the sauce in the freezer which we plan on adding peas too & turning into shepard's pie.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Homemade Pizza

We had sauce, pepperoni & cheese leftover from New Year's Eve so it seemed like a good idea to make homemade pizza again.
Homemade pizza
This time the dough recipe we used was from Wise Bread & they say the foundation for it came from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast (if you use the kind that comes in packets, you need about 1/2 of a packet per batch of dough)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
a teaspoon each of garlic, dried onion, basil and ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water (update 9/16/09 I find this dough work better with about 2/3 of the water so start with 1 cup & see if you need more)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus an extra teaspoon
3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra as needed)

In large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, salt, and spices. Add the water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and give it a quick stir. Add the flour a cup at a time. When you can't stir in any more flour, switch to kneading it in. Knead until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too sticky add flour in slowly until it smooths out. Pour the remaining olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and roll the dough around until the oil coats the outside of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and stick the whole bowl out of the way to rise. It should double in about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Form balls out of the dough and roll them flat on a floured surface. Place the pizzas on a lightly greased baking sheet and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes. The cooking time entirely depends on the thickness of your crust and how many toppings you pile on — thin crust pizzas can take as little as 8 minutes.

This is enough dough for 2 good size pizzas or 4 personal ones.

We didn't have rapid-rise yeast so we just double the amount of yeast called for & proof it for 10 minutes in 1/4 cup of the water warmed to about 100 degrees. Also we halved the recipe since we only wanted one pizza. I found the dough was really sticky and had to keep adding flour, I probably used 2 cups for this half recipe instead of 1 1/2.

We make our pizzas on a pizza paddle & cook them on a pizza stone. That caused a little problem with this pizza because the olive oil you've rolled the dough in to rise makes it stick to the paddle. The solution seems to be to not over oil your dough, make sure your paddle is really well floured & assemble the pizza right before you plan on sliding it onto the stone. Of course you can just use the cookie sheet method in the recipe. We bought or stone for $13 & I also use it to bake bread on.

For sauce we have found a canned sauce we really like, Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce.
28301.jpg
We have been fans of their canned Fire Roasted Tomatoes so when we saw this we had to try it. A can has enough sauce for about 4 pizzas so we divide it & freeze it to use later.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Orechiette with Sausage & Broccoli

The finished goods
This is a staple in our house since we started making it about a year ago. Its really easy with very few ingredients (I don't even add the shallot or olive oil I originally called for in the recipe anymore) & not a lot of prep. It makes a quick satisfying meal after work or a busy day. We made it for my parents over Thanksgiving & they went nuts for it too. You can read more about it here. or just get the recipe from our wiki.

Monday, January 7, 2008

North Beach Minestrone

Not much to say here really. This was made from a soup mix we got as part of the Viansa winery food & wine club. It was ok, made way more than we needed. For all the time it took I would have preferred to add more fresh vegetables than the dried ones it came with. The fresh brussels sprouts in it were great though. We know have lots of this in our freezer.
Minestrone
I wouldn't search this soup mix out again but at least its now out of the cupboard.

Sausage & White Bean Cassoulet

This was a leftover we pulled out of the freezer. Matt is still down with a bad cough & cold. These soups & strews seem to be the most appealing thing to him right now. This froze & reheated well except the white beans pretty much turned to mush, the lima beans (a surprising addition to this cassoulet) though held their texture nicely.
Cassoulet

1 T olive oil
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1 lb kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 leeks, white & pale green parts only, sliced
3 cloved garlic, minced
1 apple, peeled & chopped
1 T fresh rosemary or 1/2 t dried
1 t dried sage
1 bay leaf
1 c (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
2 or 3 drops Tabasco sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) great northern beans, drained & rinsed
10 oz frozen baby lima beans, rinsed
1 1/2 c chicken stock or broth
2 T tomato paste
pepper
1/4 c chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350. In a dutch oven over medium heat, warm oil. Add whole Italian sausages and brown for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Add kielbasa and brown both sausages about 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and slice Italian sausage into 1/2 inch rounds. Add leeks & garlic to the same pan & sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add apple, rosemary, sage and bay leaf. Stir in tomatoes, Tabasco sauce, beans, stock, and tomato paste. Season with pepper.
Bake covered, about 1 hour. Remove lid and stir in parsley. Bake, uncovers, 15 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf and discard.

Serves 6 to 8

Recipe from The Big Book of Soups & Stews: Maryana Vollstedt

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Weekly Menu 1/5/08-1/11/08

Here's whats for dinner for this week...

Sausage & White Bean Cassoulet - The Big Book of Soups & Stews: Maryana Vollstedt (actually a leftover from a past week that we have in the freezer) - RESULT: This reheated well even though the white beans didn't hold their texture so it was worth making a full batch the first time & freezing half.

North Beach Minestrone - A soup mix from Viansa winery - RESULT: It was ok but I wouldn't look for this soup mix again, I prefer making it from scratch.

Homemade Pizza - RESULT: The new dough recipe with herbs in it is a winner & so is the Muir Glen Pizza sauce

Lentil Chili with Cumin & Green Onions
- Bon Appétit Feb. 08 - RESULT: A good vegetarian version of chili, that is probably pretty healthy. It goes together very quickly so great for a busy day.

Bolognese - The Joy of Cooking - RESULT: A lot of time for something that was really rather bland & disappointing. We won't make this again.

Oricchiette with Italian Sausage and Broccoli - RESULT: This one is always a winner & super easy to make.

Chicken Saltimbocca - Bon Appétit March 2007 - RESULT: This wonderful meal looks fancy but really comes together very fast. A favorite!

Perhaps since they are in season, crab on Friday!

I'm be updating this with the results & posting recipes.

Tuna Casserole

When people talk about Minnesota food no doubt you'll hear about hotdish (usually made for a Lutheran church supper). I grew up with hotdishes; American Chow Mein, Chicken Almond Party Bake and such though we called them casseroles in Michigan. They may seem a little white trash but sometimes you want that comforting mix of protein, creamed soup & something crunchy. This is the Tuna Casserole I grew up with. I'm not sure where my mom got the recipe.
makings of a hotdish

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can tuna packed in water, drained
1 small can evaporated milk
1 c chopped celery
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 c chow mein noodles

Mix everything together in a casserole. Place the casserole in a pan of hot water. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

serves 4

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Golden Root-Vegetable Couscous

I love Nigella Lawson & her joyful way of cooking & eating. For Christmas I got her How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food. It looks like it is going to be good reading as well as cooking (though I do wish it had pictures). This is our first foray into it a meal she says is particularly good "if you've been feeling rather fragile." I would say with our colds we have been. It also felt like a perfectly seasonal dish. Give yourself a little prep time for this as there are lots of vegetables to peel & chop.

golden root vegetable couscous

3 T olive oil
2 med. onions, quartered & sliced thickly
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t each ground cinnamon, cumin & coriander
1/2 t paprika
generous pinch of saffron
3 med. carrots, peeled & cut into a 1 inch dice
2 med. parsnips, peeled & cut into 1 inch dice
2 medium turnips, peeled & cut into a 1 inch dice
1 small kabocha or butternut squash, peeled & cut into a 1 inch dice
1/2 med. rutabaga, peeled & cut into a 1 inch dice
3 zucchini sliced 1/2 inch thick (you can peel if you like)
4 1/2 cut chicken, beef or vegetable stock
1/2 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with liquid
grated zest from 1/2 large orange, plus juice from the whole orange (optional)
2/3 c sultanas
1 1/2 c (14 oz each) chickpeas
salt
few drops chili oil or 1 t harissa

1/2 c pine nuts
4 c quick-cooking couscous
2 T butter

Heat the olive oil in a big, deep pot & turn the onions in it for a few minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, paprika and saffron, and stir over low to medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, parsnips, turnips, squash, rutabaga and zucchini and turn briskly. After about 5 minutes add the stock, tomatoes, orange zest, sultanas and chickpeas. Turn again & try to get everything at least partially covered by the stock. Add more stock or water if needed. Season with salt, taste, and if you want to, add the orange juice. The stew benefits from an aromatic hint of orange, but don't be too heavy-handed (I chose not to add it, the zest was enough).
Cook this fragrant, golden stew for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but not mushy (at least not all of them - some will be beginning to fray around the edges, and that is good) and the liquid has formed a thin but not watery sauce. Taste and chili oil or the harissa if you want it to have more punch. (Matt put it in his bowl I left it out)
Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. Put the pine nuts in a hot, dry frying pan and toast until they are golden & giving off a sweet resiny aroma. Set aside. (ok, she goes through a whole long process here of cooking the couscous in a couscoussier, I don't know about you but I don't have one. We just cooked the couscous according to the directions on the package with butter making 1/4 cup dry per serving)
Serve the stew with the couscous & sprinkle with pine nuts.

This stew was superb. We halved the recipe since there was just the two of us & this supposedly makes 6 servings. Half the recipe made at least 4 servings so I would say the recipe above is actually for 8.
golden root vegetable couscous
I left out the rutabaga because I didn't want to buy one just to use 1/4 of it & just added more squash (I suppose you could really vary the vegetables anyway that suits your tastes). I also used the whole can of chickpeas instead of 3/4. Next time I would add more sultanas, their sweetness was perfect in this. This one is highly recommended.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Roasted Potato, Onion & Garlic Soup

Roasted Potato, Onion & Garlic Soup
It sounded like a good idea. We love roasted potatoes, onions & garlic. Unfortunately, I think we like them better when they are not pureed into a creamy soup. I guess taste-wise it was ok but the texture which was a bit like baby food and color (Matt said it looked like peanut butter) were really a turn off. Plus I found the recipe, from Soup Makes the Meal: Ken Haedrich, a bit fussy. It has you roast the vegetables, easy enough, but then also heat the broth you puree them with, them make the roue separately after you blended the stack & puree together. I've made a lot of creamy soups & the way this one went together just didn't feel right if that makes any sense. This will not be something we make again.

Chicken Pot Pie

There are some ok frozen chicken pot pies out on the market but really its so easy to make your own (especially if you use a store bought pie crust or puff pastry) and the results are so yummy. I like to make a enough filling for 4 pies & then freeze half. One package of the Pillsbury pie crust is enough for 4 pies as well & can also be frozen so I have the makings of another meal in the freezer. This is a very classic filling but I also do a Moroccan one. I think you could pretty much do this with what ever veggies you have on hand.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

3 T butter
1/2 c celery, diced
1/2 c onion, diced
1/2 c carrots, diced
1/2 c pies, fresh or frozen
2 t parsley, minced
pinch dried sage
1/2 t fresh thyme leaves (We always have this in the fridge. It adds a lot of flavor to chicken dishes & lasts a long time in the crisper.)
3 T flour
4 c roasted chicken, diced (I used what was left from Sunday's roast)
2 c chicken stock
1/2 c cream
salt & pepper
one prepared pie crust or sheet of puff pastry
1 egg beaten with 2 T milk (optional just gives the crust a nice shine)

Place butter in a large sauté pan. When foaming add vegetables and herbs. Cook until onions are glassy. Add flour. Cook 2-3 minutes while stirring. Add chicken. Stir. Add stock in thirds. Bring to a light boil. Lower heat. Cook until sauce thickens. Add cream. Bring to a simmer. Pull from heat & season with salt & pepper. (The recipe says to then cool it before making your pie but I didn't bother.) Place the filling either individual 4 ramekins or a deep ceramic pie dish for one big pie. Cut the pie crust or puff pastry to fit the top with a slight overlap. Crimp the edges. Pierce top to vent. Brush with egg-milk wash. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Recipe Mpls/St. Paul Magazine January '08
Breaking in
This filling had a great flavor but it was a little soupier than I like. It could be because I didn't have quite 4 cups of chicken (more like 3 1/4) or perhaps I didn't let it thicken enough while cooking. Next time maybe I'll try a little less stock & then add more if it needs it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Indian BBQ Pizza

We make homemade pizza quite often & decided it would be a quick easy meal for New Year's Eve . Back in San Francisco our English friends loved to order Indian Pizza. We'd been talking about trying to come up with our version since we liked it so much. Then over the holidays Matt's mother served Roasted Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts with an Indian Barbecue Sauce. We had discovered our Indian Pizza sauce.

Indian Barbecue Sauce

1 T ground cumin
2 T olive oil
1 t minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T sugar

Toast cumin in a small skillet over medium heat until darker in color & beginning to smoke, about 1 1/2 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ginger & garlic; sauté until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, and toasted cumin. Bring to a boil, whisking to blend. Reduce heat to very low; simmer 1 minute to blend flavors, whisking constantly.

Recipe from Bon Appétit September 2007

For topping we used leftover roast chicken from Sunday night, sliced onions & Fontina cheese. A section on other vegetables sch as cauliflower would be great too.

This made a terrific pizza & we'll use this sauce again. Matt even used it on his ham & cheese sandwich for lunch today.

One note about making homemade pizza. We had our second pizza stone crack in two this week.
cracked pizza stone Shouldn't these be made to stand up to 450 degree heat? We are going to try getting some unglazed ceramic tile & see if its any better.

Garlicky White Bean Soup

Matt made this soup on Friday when I came down with a nasty cold. He was a little uncertain about it because it called for 6 or more big cloves of garlic. The result was wonderful though & just what I wanted when not feeling well. The garlic is not in the least bit over-powering & isn't garlic supposed to be good for a cold? Leftovers were great the next day for lunch.
Navy Beans This recipe takes 2 hours to soak & cook the beans so plan ahead before making it.

1 C dried white navy beans
1 t chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 t dried
1/4 C olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 big cloves of garlic, or more to taste, minced
1 large ripe tomato, cored, seeded & chopped
3 to 4 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes to taste
salt & pepper to taste

1. Put the beans in a colander & pick over them to remove any dirt & debris. Rinse well, then put them in a large saucepan with plenty of water to cover. Bring to a boil, boil for one minute, then remove from the heat. Cover & set aside to soak for 1 hour.
2. Drain the beans, then put them back in the pan with 5 1/2 cups fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to moderately low, simmer, partially covered, until they are tender, about an hour.
3. While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a separate large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion & garlic & cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes; there should be enough oil in the pan so the onion essentially stews in it. After 20 minutes, stir in the tomato, increase the heat somewhat, and stew another 8 to 10 minutes.
4. When the beans are tender, carefully pour the beans & their cooking water into the onion & tomato mixture. Add the bouillon cubes. Bring the soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Taste the soup, seasoning with salt & pepper.
5. As the soup comes to a simmer, remove about 1 cup of the beans with a slotted spoon. Put them, & a little of the broth , into a blender & process until smooth. Stir the puree back into the soup. Simmer for about 10 minutes, partially covered, before serving.

Makes about 5 serving.

This one is definitely going to be added to our list of winter soups

Recipe from Soup Makes the Meal: Ken Haedrich

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We're back

So we disappeared for a bit. We decided to make a big change in our life & pulled up our roots in San Francisco & headed back to the Midwest. We are settled in a lovely 1930's house in Minneapolis with a fabulous newly remodeled kitchen (hello 5 burner stove, I love you).
Clean & shiny The move to colder climates has been interesting & we are really noticing a huge difference in the produce available to us. Learning to cook seasonally is going to have to be something we learn here. Right now I can't wait until the summer farmer's markets.

So back to the food! Where to start?

My cousin & I were talking on New Year's Eve about how we both plan a menu for the week & use it to write a list for shopping. I started doing this when Matt & I moved in together & it really saved us from eating out all the time because we have the ingredients on hand. We both felt the biggest challenge was coming up with the menus each week, looking for new recipes, remembering things we made in the past & what we liked & didn't. We decided what we needed to do was keep track of each weeks menu & write notes on the recipes then we can go back & look at past ones for ideas. She suggested if you could look at other peoples' that would give you ideas too. So that's how I'm going to jump back into this blog, talking about our weekly menus. Hope you enjoy it.

Week - Dec. 29 - Jan. 4
Garlicky White Bean Soup - Soup Makes the Meal: Ken Haedrich - RESULT: Yummy on a cold night with a cold, this one is a keeper.

Roast Chicken with parsnips, carrots, potatoes & onions - RESULT: Always a winner & the parsnips were so sweet.

Homemade pizzas - dough from The Easy Way to Artisan Bead & Pastries: Avner Laskin - RESULT: The Indian Barbecue Pizza was fantastic, we will make this one again & again.

Chicken Pot Pie - Filling from Mpls/St Paul Magazine January 08 issue - RESULT: Making homemade chicken pot pie is pretty easy & the results are so yummy this will stay in our winter menus.

Roasted Potato, Onion and Garlic Soup
- Soup Makes the Meal: Ken Haedrich - RESULT: The color & texture of this soup were not appealing at all. We won't make this again.

Golden Root-Vegetable Couscous - How to Eat: Nigella Lawson - RESULT: Suberb. The spices with the vegetables are perfect for winter. Plan a little prep time as there are a lot of vegetables to peel & chop.

Tuna Casserole (or should I say hotdish?) - RESULT: a favorite from my childhood & something I'll probably always make.

I'll follow up with recipes & how each meal was.

Happy New Year!
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